As QSRs and fast casual concepts race to remain relevant to Millennial consumers, some restaurants are looking to beer for help. Of course, they’re not looking at just any beer, they’re looking at craft beer.
Craft beers are defined as beers brewed at microbreweries across the United States and the world. In other words, these beers are anything but your typical Budweiser or Coors Light. With craft beers, there’s a good chance that unless you pay attention to the craft beer market, you haven’t even heard of them. And even if you do pay attention, you might find yourself learning of beers you’ve never heard of.
And Millennials are fans. According to research from Mintel, half of Millennials ages 25-34 drink craft beers. In addition, 43 percent of Millennials say craft beer tastes beer than big-name domestic beers.
Chipotle and Smashburger, two restaurants already popular with Millennials, are now adding craft beers to their menus in some markets. Chipotle is starting by adding beers from 5 Rabbit, an Illinois microbrewery, to a handful of its Chicago locations. Smashburger announced in a press release that it will be adding New Belgium beers in its 16 Colorado locations. The company has plans to extend the menu offering to other states, but didn’t elaborate on a timeline.
The addition of craft beers taps into the Millennial desire for adventure. Nearly two-thirds of Millennials consider themselves adventurous, according to “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation,” a research report by Barkley in conjunction with Boston Consulting Group and SMG. Craft beers allow Millennials to try something new while still eating at their favorite restaurants. They can pay an extra dollar or two for an experience they haven’t had — and they can share this with their friends. While you’re likely not going to have a conversation about Coors Light, you might find yourself talking about a microbrew from California. In short, it’s the chance for an affordable adventure.
According to the Brewer’s Association, more than 400 breweries opened in the United States in 2012 alone. Going forward, it looks like there will be no shortage of new brews for fast casual and QSR concepts to consider adding to their menus.
Jeff is executive vice president at Barkley, an advertising agency in Kansas City, Missouri. He is also the lead editor of MillennialMarketing.com and a co-author of Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever, which will be available July 17, 2013.